What are Restorative Dental Services?


Restorative dental services are those dental procedures that improve oral function and health. This typically means repairing damaged or missing teeth. It differs from cosmetic dentistry in that it improves oral functionality while cosmetic dentistry focuses on aesthetics though the two can overlap. For example, a restorative dental crown procedure can both enhance chewing function but also improve the appearance of one’s smile. The most common restorative dental procedures done in America are fillings and crowns. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), approximately 175 million fillings are performed every year. This article discusses what are restorative dental services and what one can expect when receiving such a procedure.

1. Fillings

Dental fillings treat cavities in teeth. Cavities occur when bacteria eat away the tooth enamel forming a hole. Dental fillings repair cavities by filling them and are also used to repair cracks, breaks, and worn-down teeth. To treat a cavity, the dentist removes the decayed bits and then fills that area. As for what are restorative dental services cavity filling materials, that would be either silver amalgam, gold, ceramic, composite resin, or glass ionomer.

  • Silver amalgam – has been in use for more than 150 years and is the least expensive type of filling. It consists of a mixture of metals, namely liquid mercury and a powdered alloy of silver, tin, and copper. Close to half of a silver amalgam is liquid mercury. This type of filling can last for 10 – 15 years.
  • Gold fillings – are an alloy of gold, copper, and other metals. These are more expensive but also the most durable, lasting more than 20 years. Gold fillings require impressions to be manufactured, which means a patient will need more than one dental visit.
  • Ceramic/porcelain fillings – are made by filling a methacrylate matrix with 80% of minute porcelain particles and can cost as much as gold fillings. Unlike metallic fillings, porcelain does not expand or contract with temperature changes, thus reducing the chances of damage. Ceramic fillings are custom-made in a lab to match a patient’s tooth color. They also require multiple dental visits and can last 15 years or more.
  • Composite resin – is made from glass or quartz in resin and can also be customized to match the color of a patient’s teeth. They can last for at least five years and are placed in areas that experience moderate chewing.
  • Glass ionomer – is a mixture of glass (flouroaluminosilicate) and acrylic. Glass ionomer fillings release fluoride over time which is great for dental health. They are commonly used on children as they sometimes require no drilling or preparation though they do take time to complete. However, they have low durability of about five years.

Steps to Fill in a Tooth

The dentist will numb the area around the tooth that needs filling before using a drill or abrasion instrument to remove the decayed material from the tooth. They will then clean the cavity to remove debris and bacteria. For decay close to the root, your dentist may first place a liner of glass ionomer/composite resin/other material to protect the nerve. Tooth-colored fillings are applied in layers, and a special light is used to harden each layer. After the dentist completes a filling, they will polish it.

2. Dental Implants

As opposed to fillings, dental implants are applied in cases where the damage to the tooth is extensive. It is essentially a tooth replacement complete with a root system and consists of a false tooth joined with a metal anchor that is screwed into the jaw bone. Most dental implants are made from titanium or zirconium oxide though other materials such as ceramic and gold, titanium, or cobalt-based alloys can be used.

Many dentists consider this type of tooth repair the best as it can significantly improve a patient’s health and quality of life. In addition to restoring chewing ability and cosmetic appearance, dental implants prevent jawbone shrinking due to bone loss and also preserve the health of nearby bones and gums. Plus, they help keep adjacent teeth stable. As for what are restorative dental services implant types, there are two:

  • Endosteal – the most common type of implant whereby screws are surgically inserted in the jawbone to act as a tooth root. One implant can support several teeth. The procedure occurs under local anesthesia, general anesthesia, or IV sedation. The dentist will extract the existing tooth, then cut the gum to expose the jawbone they will drill deep into. After drilling, the dentist screws in an implant post, and over two to six months, new bone will grow around it, securing it in place. An abutment will be added to the implant post either during the initial procedure or a later one, and this abutment is what the new fake tooth will be mounted onto. With the implant secure, a custom-made crown can be attached to the abutment. The whole procedure takes around three to nine months and can cost as much as $6,000 per tooth.
  • Subperiosteal – if the jawbone is not strong enough to support an endosteal implant, then a subperiosteal metal frame will be inserted under the gum without drilling into the jawbone. After the metal frame is inserted, the gums are sutured and allowed to heal before mounting the crown.

3. Crowns

A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap that covers an entire tooth with cavities or other damage. Dental crowns repair large cavities and broken teeth though they are also one of the procedures of cosmetic dentists. Dental crowns can be used to cosmetically cover misshapen or badly discolored teeth. They can be made from metal, resin, gold alloys, porcelain fused to metal, ceramic, or zirconia. Making dentist appointments can help you decide what type of crown is best for you. Porcelain works well on the front teeth because they blend in, but it can be brittle. Meanwhile, metal or gold alloys are strong but will stand out.

Steps to Put in a Crown

The dentist will examine the affected tooth. In some cases, a root canal may be required. The dentist will then administer an anesthetic before shaving away some enamel to make space for the crown. They will also make impressions of your tooth and the adjacent teeth and send them to a lab to produce the crown. In the meantime, a temporary crown will be placed over the affected tooth until the lab completes making the crown. Some dentistry practices can make the crown on-premise as you wait for around one to two hours. When the crown is ready, the dentist will cement it onto the trimmed tooth.

According to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry, a dental crown can cost you between $1000 and $3,500. The cost varies depending on a dentist’s location, type of crown, the dentist’s and dental technician training and expertise, lab fees, and dental insurance. Sometimes, what are restorative dental services procedures can go wrong due to malpractice – for example, not administering enough anesthetic or having a loosely fitting crown. In such instances, you can sue a dentist via a personal injury law firm for bad dental work. To do so, you need to prove that they did not provide the standard level of care required, so keep all documents relating to your care.

4. Bridge

A bridge is an artificial tooth suspended in between two crowns. It is held in place by crowns on either side of it and is placed in areas with missing or extracted teeth. Dental bridges can last five to seven years or even more than a decade with proper care. This means good oral hygiene and regular professional cleanings. Discuss with your dentist what are restorative dental services oral care practices for more details. If you have suffered a substandard bridge treatment, call a personal injury lawyer.

5. Root Canal

According to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), there are more than 15 million root canals done annually. It’s a very common what are restorative dental services procedure, with about 41,000 of them happening daily. It’s an endodontic treatment involving removing the inflamed pulp under an anesthetic. Root canal therapy is done when bacteria goes deep enough to reach the pulp causing a painful infection. During the diseased pulp removal, the dentist or endodontist will also remove the blood vessels and tiny nerves inside the tooth. Crowns are often added after root canals to provide additional support and strength. Nerve injuries are one of the common dental malpractice claims that can happen during a root canal treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms such as pain, strange mouth sensations, drooling, impaired speech, or altered taste senses, personal injury law can help you gain compensation.

6. Inlays and Onlays

Inlays and onlays are a middle ground between fillings and root canals. They are performed when the tooth has experienced so much damage that it cannot support a regular filling but not enough to require a crown. Unlike a crown procedure, inlays and onlays do not require that a tooth be filed down. They will however use a drill to remove all the decayed material, similar to how a filling is performed.

The difference between the two what are restorative dental services procedures is in how much of a chewing surface they cover. Inlays cover less area, i.e., the pits and fissures between a tooth’s cusps. Onlays on the other hand go farther, covering one or more cusps. One similarity they have to crowns is that both procedures require an impression to be sent to a lab for manufacture. If you experience a poor inlay or onlay outcome, acquiring the services of an injury lawyer can help you get the justice you deserve.

7. Dentures

Dentures are a tooth replacement procedure that typically covers an entire arch of teeth. Partial dentures replace a single tooth or several. They are commonly produced out of acrylic resin and need replacing after five to ten years. There are three answers to the question of what are restorative dental services dentures:

  • Conventional – are fully removable dentures placed after your teeth are removed, and the affected tissues have healed. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, conventional dentures are usually put in place four to eight weeks after tooth extraction.
  • Immediate – dentures are immediately put in place after your teeth are extracted. This however means that they may have to be adjusted or remade once the jaw recovers.
  • Overdenture – are partial dentures that sit over a small number of existing natural teeth or implants which provide stability and support.

Dentures need to be correctly fitted for them to be effective. Inadequately fitting dentures can rub on gums and cause inflammation. If you are experiencing issues with your dentures, a personal injury lawyer can help. If you’ve been in an accident and have tooth damage, ask your auto injury attorney to advise you on how you can gain compensation.

If you are wondering what are restorative dental services risks, rest assured that the most common are sensitivity and discomfort. An infection or allergic reaction rarely occurs. With that said, anything that doesn’t seem right after a what are restorative dental services procedure should be reported to the dentist.

As for dental care after restorative dentistry work, maintain a good oral health routine. This includes brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, and not chewing on hard foods which may damage your crown, bridge, or implant. Your dentist will inform you of the specific care that your new teeth require. Dentures, for example, should not be worn when sleeping, while partial dentures should be removed before brushing. Remember also that restorative dentistry aims to repair and improve your oral health and quality of life. If you feel that the dental services you received do not align with the care expected outcome, you may have grounds to file a personal injury claim. Contact us today for assistance with restorative dental services.

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